Tokyo Electric Power Co. began preparations on May 15 to remove the cover around a damaged reactor building at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the first step in a lengthy process to extracting nuclear fuel inside it.
The work is part of a preparatory process that could take several years for the eventual removal of nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pool in the No. 1 reactor building.
On the first day of the work, TEPCO, the plant operator, sprayed a chemical agent in the reactor building to prevent radioactive dust in the building from being released into the air when the cover is removed.
On May 15, a large crane lifted a spraying machine to insert a thin, long nozzle into the building through holes created on the top cover to spray a glue-like chemical to contain dust and other materials generated by a hydrogen explosion triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
The agent will be sprayed through the nozzle at 48 points. After it completes the spraying, TEPCO plans to begin retracting the roof cover on May 25 at the earliest to remove debris from the upper part of the building.
When the utility was removing debris from the No. 3 reactor building in the summer of 2013, a large amount of radioactive substances was released into the environment, fostering the public’s distrust in the process.